Friday, March 28, 2014

JCC March 28, 2014

District Perspective
Superintendent John Carver
Twitter: johnccarver
SKYPE: johnccarver

Witness to History: ­­Dr. Norman Borlaug Ceremony
Last Tuesday, Iowa placed in Statuary Hall at our Nation’s Capitol a statue of Dr. Norman Borlaug.  Howard County native, Norm took his place of honor amongst Americans who have shaped our Nation and contributed to the advancement of mankind. Three-hundred invited guests, including representatives from Cresco, four members of the Crestwood FFA Chapter, chaperone Jamie Hauber, myself, along with Howard-Winn students watching the live stream, took part in the celebration and were witness to history.

This was only the fifth time in history that a State retired and exchanged one of its two Statuary Hall statues.  Accomplishing this required collaboration and cooperation of the citizens of Iowa, the consent and endorsement of the elected officials of the State of Iowa and permission of the US Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. 

In that this alone is a miracle, it only underscores the significant and importance to Dr. Borlaug’s work of feeding the world.

Dr. Borlaug’s life story and work provides a template for being an agent of change: having a vision of what could be, service to others, the application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to agriculture, coupled with commitment to family, is the Borlaug legacy.  

Howard-Winn’s challenge is to move forward this legacy of change and innovation. What we know is that our future is grounded in an educational system that empowers our kids to discover their passions, be creative and be imaginative. 

Embedding technology into instruction and connecting our kids digitally will prepare them to contribute and compete globally.  

Dr. Borlaug’s story is not an isolated event. Historically, Howard County is rich and responsible for many important contributions. Cadets have gone on to provide leadership and service to our military, government, agribusiness and industry. Cadets finds ways to "make it happen".
So the exciting thing is the unlimited potential currently at Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools and I am convinced there are many Norman Borlaugs walking the halls.  

We appreciate our past, value our present, and with excitement and energy, move quickly to our future. 

Task Force: Grow Howard County
The next Task Force meeting is 9:00 a.m. Saturday, March 29 at the Cresco campus of NICC. As we begin to focus in on recruiting families to Howard County, it is important we know who we are competing against. Example, the Des Moines Register reported last Saturday: "North Dakota trying to woo workers for empty jobs......Officials: more than 25,000 positions open across the state" Read more: It is crucial we think "outside the box" and think BIG. We have much to offer, but we have to offer it!

Howard-Winneshiek goes to New Hampshire
Connecting and learning about Competency Based learning (CBE) with Pittsville Community School District has unlimited potential. TEAM HOWARD-WINN: Safe travels and LEARN LOTS.


  • Congrats on an excellent concert grades 2 & 3. Nice job Mrs. Holstrom

  • To Kayleigh's Mom Jamie THANK YOU for being a wonderful chaperone.
  • THANK YOU to Kaytlan Langreck, Abby Huhe, Natalie Knobloch, and Kayleigh Hauber for being wonderful Howard-Winneshiek, Howard County and Crestwood FFA ambassadors. You guys are ROCK STARS! 
  • TRACK SEASON has stared! Love the new hair cuts for the boys.  Those cuts will help you to run faster?  LOL!
  • CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for district technology leaders. For over two decades, CoSN has provided leaders with the management, community building, and advocacy tools essential for success. Last week at their national meeting, Howard-Winn students illustrated what digital learning looks like VERY COOL!

Proud to be a CADET!

March 28, 2014

Crestwood Secondary Schools (7-12)
Twitter: @Crestwood_HS


Special Events for the Week of March 31 - April 4, 2014
Monday:         Simon Estes Assembly - HS Auditorium - 10:00 a.m.
                       Competency Based Education Team in New Hampshire through Wednesday
Tuesday:        Crestwood FFA Banquet - Heritage Events Center - 6:00 pm
Thursday:       Junior High Fundraiser Concludes - Turn In Order Forms
                       Keystone AEA Principal's Professional Development - 9:00 a.m.
Friday:            JH/HS Student Services Meetings - 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Saturday:        Annual Jazz Spotlight - 6:30 p.m.
Sunday:          Annual Jazz Spotlight - 1:00 p.m.


Congratulations Dr. Norman Borlaug!

Youth Frontiers Character Challenge of the Week

Mountain Climber Award Selections
2014 Awardees recognized this week: 
Cheyann Courtney
Arielle Engelhart
Hailey McCalley
Adam Panoch  
Sarah Pira
Logan Wiedeman
Paige Wemark


Northeast Iowa Family STEM Festival

Iowa Youth Survey Data Review
Keystone AEA personnel met with Crestwood Junior High and High School Guidance Counselors and Success Program staff this week. Further discussions revolving around student-to-teacher relationships data from the Iowa Youth Survey were the focus.

Items discussed:
  • Crestwood High School's student-to-teacher relationship data comparison to other Keystone AEA high schools.
  • A student focus group that will define what students want student-to-teacher relationships to look like at the Junior High and High School. This group will be led by Amy Holst from Keystone AEA.
  • A student presentation to staff about the need for improved student-to-teacher relationships. Data and indicators will be a focus of this presentation. This will occur at the end of the school year.
  • Information regarding parental contact and the expectation going forward to develop positive student and parental image of school. This consists of each teacher making positive, authentic contact with at least two families/students per midterm (four per quarter). Contact may consist of phone call, email, postcard, face-to-face, or letter.

1:1 Device "Roll-in"
Plans are being developed now for 1:1 laptop "roll-in." The annual process will occur on May 15 for Seniors and starting June 2 for 7-11 grade students. Laptops will be processed in homerooms for High School students and 8th period for Junior High students.

More details and guidance will be provided as the dates approach.

Friends of Howard-Winneshiek Foundation:                      
Board members and officers were elected at the meeting held this past week:
Regular Board Members                                      Ex-Officio Board Members:
Joe Braun - Secretary/Treasurer                      
   Tim Felderman
Scott Thomson - President                      
            Clint Farlinger
Bryan Sheehy -
Vice-President                             Wendy Schatz
Bruce Weigel                        
Melodee Balk                          
Michelle Midthus
Nick Ferrie
Tanya Riehle
Libby Schwade

The Sign is Up!

New Format for #iaedchat
How often can you ask questions live to the Iowa Director of Education from your living room? With the new format to Sunday night's #iaedchat conversation, the 4th Sunday night of each month will be a Google Hangout question and answer session with various educational leaders. This past week's session was with Dr. Brad Buck.

Seven Reasons for Standards-Based Grading   
The following information is the third of a seven-part series 

Reason 3: We Can Control Grading Practices 
One of the biggest sources of frustration in schools today is the sense that we are at the mercy of factors we teachers cannot control. We cannot control student socioeconomic levels, school funding, our salaries, our teaching assignments, increasing class sizes, difficult parents, or a host of other important issues. However, we can control how we assess students.

When I approached my principal and district officials with the idea of using an experimental grading system, I received support and encouragement from all of them. In addition, a number of colleagues have been intrigued and want to make standards-based grading work in their classrooms.

If a teacher must use a point system to satisfy an administrative mandate or to use a particular grade book, that teacher can still use a standards-based system. The crucial idea is to use a system that is not based on the inappropriate use of averages. The system must not allow students to mask their level of understanding with their attendance, their level of effort, or other peripheral issues.

I have found that avoiding point values that might appear in a traditional percentage-based system is helpful because parents and students can get confused if they see numbers that look like what they've seen in the past but refer to a different scale. Teachers who have to assign points can avoid this confusion by using completely different numbers. A point value in the range of 1 to 10, for example, would not have the strong associations of a point value of 85, and thus would not be as easily misinterpreted.

March 28, 2014 Greg.Adams

       Greg Adams

Grade 2-6 Principal 

(Crestwood, Elma, Lime Springs/Chester)
Twitter  @GregAAdams7     #2020HowardWinn

Looking ahead...District Redesign
We now know that all 4th grade students will be educated in Lime Springs beginning next fall. Now the conversation turns to the logistics of making this happen. 

The next steps will be determining the number of sections and supports for each grade level. The intent will be that the teaching and learning at Lime Springs will follow the same model with the same supports available to all other grade levels in the district. Staffing discussions continue. We also are working at determining the model that best serves our 6th grade students.

Monday, March 31 - Lime Springs/Chester Music Program, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 1
Wednesday, April 2
Thursday, April 3 - Pinnacle order forms are due (Grades 6-8)
Friday, April 4
April 7-May 2: Spring MAP Tests
April 24- NICC Family STEM Festival @ Calmar

Great performance, Crestwood Elementary, grades 2 & 3. 
Make a Wish, Dream a Dream!

Cane Toad
Congratulations to Kerry Fretheim for the grant awarded below.
Northeast Iowa RC&D
Employee Giving Fund (EGF)
2014: The Power of Art!
The art forms of the project requesting support are for sculpture, literary arts, and media art.
Describe event, if applicable (include activity, date and venue): 
The event that my fourth graders would be participating in is clay animation. My students will be planning and creating public service announcements, which will then be turned into clay animation and with the use of stop motion media my students will create short films. We will share our short films in a Classroom Movie Premier and have them available for the public.

This project will take place at Crestwood Elementary in a fourth grade elementary classroom of 22 students in May. My students are currently participating in a STEM workshop investigating how Cane Toads have invaded Australia. In May, we will continue our study of invasive species and how they affect the habitat around them. The goal for this project is for my fourth grade students to be engaged in researching invasive species that directly affect our own environment. For example one of my student groups will be researching the emerald ash borer. After gathering their research, my students will create a storyboard, which will explain how the invasive species affects our environment. Using this storyboard, the students will create clay animation and use stop motion video to create their public service announcements. These announcements will then be shared with the public through twitter, YouTube, and at our Classroom Movie Premier.

I have taught elementary students for 22 years. During that time, I have created lessons where my students can showcase their talents. I feel it is important to integrate the arts into my teaching. I have had experience in creating many movies on the iPad. I also introduced clay animation and stop motion last year for an enrichment day at my school. I was first introduced to clay animation when my son began creating clay animation movies at home. 

I will be using the grant proceeds to purchase wire, clay, and sculpting tools which would enable my students to create their figures for the clay animation. I would also be using the proceeds to purchase materials for background and props that will be needed to create our movies.

This project will positively impact the community and region by helping the public become aware of invasive species in and around our region. These public service announcements will be created by children from their own community and shared with community members. These public service announcements will help students understand how communities need to work together to solve problems. One voice can reach millions.

Recent grants awarded. Thank you to those that wrote the grants and to the sponsors. These programs directly benefit students.
Cresco Wisdom and Wellness - $1,250
Coding and Robotics for fourth grade - $1,500
Natural Outdoor Playground - $1,500
Smartboard for Pre-K classroom - $1,050
Smartboard for Pre-K classroom - $1,050

Pinnacle Magazine and Food Sales
Students in grades 6-8 kicked off the magazine and food sales through Pinnacle Fundraising on March 20. The funds are used for field trips. Orders are due April 3. The trip is scheduled for April 23.

At the "W" in Waverly. Students must sell 10 items to attend the trip.
Iowa Youth Survey
Guidance counselors, success coordinators, and principals met to address two areas from the recent Iowa Youth Survey.
  1. Engaging parents in the school 
  2. Safe Dating/Relationships
Next steps include separate meetings with junior high and high school students to brainstorm 1) the reasons these areas are shown as a priority, and 2) strategies/activities to address the items above to make school a nurturing, safe environment.

A description of the Iowa Youth Survey is below...
The Iowa Youth Survey is a collaborative effort conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Education, the Office of Drug Control Policy, the Iowa Department of Human Services, and the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning in the Department of Human Rights. It has been administered in Iowa since 1975 but has undergone significant changes over time.
Since 1999, the survey has been administered to almost all of the 6th, 8th, and 11th grade students in the state. As a result, the Iowa Youth Survey has become a "census" survey that reflects the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of Iowa youth. In 2012, a total of 70,770 student surveys were completed and included in analyses.
The data have been reported in various ways to meet the needs of state, regional, and local planners. When these reports do not meet the needs of schools, AEA and DE staff is available to provide guidance and needed data analysis support.
CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute) 
43 staff members were trained in CPI on March 26. CPI focuses on de-escalation skills and keeping staff/students safe. Thank you to AEA staff, Katie Fisher and Angie Raddatz for leading the training.

CPI's Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® program is known worldwide for its innovative, holistic philosophy of providing Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM for staff and those in their care—even during crisis moments. This program is now recognized by many as the international standard for violence prevention and intervention training.

Thank you to Shelly McCallister and Keith Slifka for training interested staff members in CPR. Training consisted of CPR for adults, children, and infants; assisting choking victims, and AED training. Another important step toward a safe school district!

March 28, 2014 Shirley Sovereign

PK-1 Principal/Director of Teaching & Learning
Shirley Sovereign
Twitter:  ssovprincipal
SKYPE:  Shirley.Sovereign

Tribute to Dr. Norman Borlaug
The Howard-Winn school community celebrated along with Crestwood FFA Chapter  students, Kaytlan Langreck, Natalie Knobloch, Kayleigh Hauber, Abby Huhe, and Superintendent John Carver, who attended the unveiling of the statue of Dr. Borlaug in Washington, D.C. on March 25th. The ceremony in the Capitol's National Statuatory Hall came on National Agriculture Day and Dr. Borlaug's 100th birthday. Students across the district viewed the ceremony from their classrooms and the Discovery Center.

I watched the unveiling ceremony with the 5th & 6th graders in the Discovery Center. I was struck by the students' serious attention listening to the speeches and how our students participated in the ceremony by standing, applauding and singing, as if they were there. The pride instilled in our students for their Iowa heritage and the work ethic modeled by Dr. Borlaug, and others, are perhaps the greatest legacy we leave with our students. 

Proud to be an Iowan from Howard County.
Kindergarten students watching the unveiling ceremony in Mrs. Galvin's room.

5th graders participating from the Discovery Center.
2nd graders in Mrs. Berg's room watching the ceremony.

Music Program
Cresco 2nd and 3rd graders had their vocal music program this week. The theme of the concert was "Make a Wish, Dream a Dream!" This theme fit well with the vision of our school district with music selections such as:  "Dream Your Dreams,"  "Imagine it True," and "The Future Calling Us." I was impressed with the students who had speaking parts. They did a good job of speaking with expression and projecting their voices. Great job on the whole performance 2nd and 3rd graders and music teacher, Mrs. Barb Holstrom!

Report Cards
Third quarter report cards were sent home with students in grades K-5 on March 24th. It is hard to believe we are already in the 4th quarter of the school year.

Iowa Assessments 
Students in grades 3-11 took the Statewide academic achievement test during March 10-21. Students in grades 3-5 set goals for their achievement in reading and math on both the Iowa Assessments and the MAPS test, which will be given again at the end of April. School districts in Iowa are required to administer at least two standardized assessments during the school year. The DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) is also used in grades K-3 to determine progress in reading. Teachers and administrators use scores from these tests along with students' classroom performance, to make instructional decisions.
Inservice Meetings
During Professional Development time this week, a group of teachers and associates received re-certification training in CPI, a nonviolent crisis intervention training program. This training was given by Keystone Consultants, Katie Fisher and Angie Raddatz.  Another group of elementary teachers met with Marcia Kruse, School Improvement Consultant, to move forward with the SINA Plan by writing "I Can" statements. These are statements of the learning objectives that are posted in each classroom on a daily basis. There is strong research evidence that when students know what they are to learn, stated in words they understand, their achievement increases. "I Can" statements are viewed as an important component of implementing the Iowa Core. The teachers also worked on reading comprehension instructional strategies to add to the collection of interventions used during RtI/MTSS time. 

Preschool Parent Advisory Meeting
The spring meeting of the District Preschool Parent Advisory Committee will be held at the Cresco Early Childhood Center on April 8. The agenda will include reviewing the results of the parent survey, transitioning of PK students to kindergarten and gathering parent suggestions to improve home visits done in the fall. The advisory group includes parents from Elma, Cresco, Lime Springs/Chester and Notre Dame preschools.

Grow Howard County
The next meeting will be held at NICC-Cresco on Saturday, March 29th at 9:00 a.m. The group will continue efforts to bring broadband internet access to Howard County and to increase the population in this area by participating in the Home Base Iowa initiative to bring citizens who are retired from the military to our locality. 

 News from Classrooms on #2020HowardWinn



Athletic Director Jim Obermann
Twitter:  jobermann

At least the extended forecast looks we try to transition into the outdoor spring sports, we find ourselves looking at the extended forecast for some hope. At this point April looks to at least be normal. We are all ready for some much needed warmth!
  • Golf - The first boys golf meet of the year is scheduled for a week from this Friday at the Cresco Golf Course. For that to happen, we need a few outstanding days of doesn't look too promising, but we will hope. The girls are slated to start their competitive season on Monday, April 7th at the Cresco Golf Course...this meet may be in jeopardy as well.
  • Track - The indoor season has come and gone for the most part. The girls squad competed this past Saturday and Tuesday. On Saturday, the girls were at Luther where there were unlimited entries. All of the Cadet girls received many opportunities. It was a rather long day, but it was a great opportunity to actually compete on a track. The girls were also able to compete against some talented big schools as there were teams in attendance from the tri-state region. TPD sports editor Nate Troy was in attendance and has a complete story in this week's edition. Both the boys and girls competed at the NEIC Indoor on Tuesday at Wartburg, and they took that final steps to get ready for the outdoor season. The NEIC is always a talented conference with talented teams, but the Cadets proved to themselves that they can compete. Coaches are doing a bit of experimenting at this point to see where best to utilize the talent on their teams. It will be interesting to see how the teams develop once on the outdoor tracks.
    • The boys team is slated to start their outdoor season next Thursday at Waukon, track and field conditions pending.
    • The girls team is slated to start their outdoor season next Friday at West Union, track and field conditions pending. (This meet was previously believed to be on Thursday, so this is a change.)
    • Jr. High teams have begun practicing as well.
Hoping to see daffodils, robins, and all other signs of spring soon...Have a good weekend!!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

JCC March 21, 2014

District Perspective
Superintendent John Carver
Twitter: johnccarver
SKYPE: johnccarver

I love this thinking! Our Nation needs "risks takers" who fail forward! We learn more from living life than from "playing it safe". Way to go Mr. Ferrie!

Witnessing History! Dr. Borlaug Statue Unveiling
Sunday the Howard-Winneshiek delegation takes off for Washington D.C. and the unveiling of Dr. Borlaug's statue. This is history in the making and I cannot think of any better representatives than these young ladies from the Crestwood FFA chapter: Kaytlan Langreck, Natalie Knobloch, Kayleigh Hauber, and Abby Huhe. The girls have connected with US Senator Grassley and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and are excited to see them again in Washington D.C. at the event.
Watch #2020HowardWinn on Twitter and check out on Facebook for updates!

A special THANK YOU to these friends and community members for their financial support to make this happen. 
Patti Bryant                       John Carver (Decorah)                         Upper Iowa Tool and Die
LaDene Reid                     Lowell Sovereign                                  Hvitved & Associates
Lime Springs Beef             Bonair Enterprise                                  Bill Kruse
Hawkeye Sanitation           Marlene Michel                                     Mehmert Tiling   
Gerald Keune                   Thomson Charitable Trust & CUSB        Jeri Andera
Cheryl Riehle                    Howard County Farm Bureau                Cresco Kiwanis 
Cresco Bank and Trust

Technology and Learning
Technology is accelerating change and impacting every area of life. In education, technology is redefining teaching and learning. A digital device, hooked to the internet, empowers learners (students and teachers), enhancing creativity, imagination and achievement. This is very exciting.

There is "no script" for what is now happening. We are building and flying the plane at the same time.

This is the thinking we are using going forward.

The "take away" is that learning begins with relationships. Technology may be redefining what relationships look like. But relationships are the foundation.

Task Force Howard County Update
The next "Grow Howard County" Task Force meeting is Saturday, March 29 at 9:00 a.m. at the Cresco NICC campus. Information and updates will be shared on our applications for Home Base Iowa ( and Connect Community. Very COOL things happening. The next piece is to "move the needle" on the housing question. Come join the party and be a part of shaping our future!

Proposed 2014-2015 School Calendar

A working draft of the 2014-2015 school calendar is ready for review. Check it out at and 

By Iowa Statute, schools are required to have either 180 days OR 1,082 hours of instruction. The Howard-Winn proposed calendar would have 180, 6.5 hours days of instruction which translates into 1,170 hours of instruction.

Design Features Include:
  • New teachers would report Friday, August 15, 2014
  • Two days of Professional Development for all staff Monday August 18 and Tuesday August 19. 
  • NO CONTRACT NO WORK DAY Wednesday, August 20, 2014
  • First Day of Classes Thursday, August 21, 2014
  • Parent Teacher Conferences Monday, November 17 and Thursday and November 20. P/T Comp Day would be Wednesday, November 26.
  • Winter Break would be December 22 to January 2, 2015. 
  • January 2, 2015 is a Teacher Quality PD day (No classes).
  • Classes would resume on Monday, January 5, 2015.
  • Questions remain about Spring Parent-Teacher Conferences. If on corresponding dates to 2014, the week of P-T conferences would be: No School Monday Presidents Day, Tuesday and Thursday Conferences, then no school Friday. The question: is this the best use of time instructionally? Would it be better instructionally to have P/T conferences closer to the end of the Quarter (March 6, 2015).
  • Monday April 6 is a designated Make Up SNOW DAY.
  • Tentative last day of class (no snow days) Thursday, May 21st.
  • Two End of year PD Days: Friday May 22 and Tuesday, May 26.
Check it out and send comments to

Shout Outs! 
  • Contract Negotiations with Teachers and Bus Divers have been transparent and positive. In this environment, everybody WINS!
  • A BIG THANK YOU to the Building and Grounds staff for continuing to shovel the snow and scrape the ice. When will spring be here? LOL!
  • I laughed, I cried, and I laughed! The Junior High Musical was FANTASTIC. Great WORK!
  • Way to go Shane Trautsch!

One last thing..........
Follow #2020HowardWinn on Twitter and SEE 21st century learning

March 21, 2014

Crestwood Secondary Schools (7-12)
Twitter: @Crestwood_HS


Special Events for the Week of March 24 - March 30, 2014
Tuesday:        Iowa Youth Survey Data Meeting - Keystone AEA staff - 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday:   3 Hour Early Out Schedule - Professional Development
                       Howard-Winneshiek Foundation Meeting - 7:00 a.m.
                       Wellness Committee Meeting - 3:45 p.m.
Thursday:       Data Management System Meeting - 3:30 p.m.
                       Mountain Climber Recognition Program - HS Student Center - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday:       State Solo/Ensemble Contest
Sunday:         Competency Based Education Team Depart for New Hampshire

Youth Frontiers Character Challenge of the Week

Simon Estes "Roots and Wings" Concert
Three Crestwood High School Choirs will perform
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Cresco Theatre - 3:00 p.m.
General Seating: $25
Tickets for the Simon Estes concert are for available for purchase at  

Mountain Climber Recognition

g2 Mock Trial
Students in the g2 program held a mock trial this week. The case was "The World vs. Harry Truman." Students debated the ethics of President Truman's decision to launch an atomic bomb against Japan during World War II. Student "witnesses" included President Truman, Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Emperor Hirohito, President Franklin Roosevelt, and various other American and Japanese citizens. The jury's verdict was 8-0 in favor of dropping the bomb, based on the evidence presented in the trial.

It's Not About Time - It's About LEARNING
The following video highlights the thoughts of Mr. Fred Bramante. Fred is a former 8th grade Science teacher, a former candidate for governor, and the past Chairman of the New Hampshire State Board of Education. Appointed by both Republican and Democratic governors, Mr. Bramante served on the State Board of Education longer than anyone in the state's history. In 2003, Mr. Bramante led New Hampshire's first full-scale effort to redesign public education since 1919.

Seven Reasons for Standards-Based Grading   
The following information is the second of a seven-part series 
Reason 2: We Need to Challenge the Status Quo
Many notions I had at the beginning of my career about grading didn't stand up to real scrutiny. The thorny issue of homework is one example of how the status quo needed to change. I once thought it was essential to award points to students simply for completing homework. I didn't believe students would do homework unless it was graded. And yet, in my classroom, students who were clearly learning sometimes earned low grades because of missing work. Conversely, some students actually learned very little but were good at “playing school.” Despite dismal test scores, these students earned decent grades by turning in homework and doing extra credit. They would often go on to struggle in later courses, while their parents watched and worried.
Over the past three years, I have radically changed how I formally assess homework—I don't. Of course, it is essential for students to do homework that is tied closely to learning objectives and for students to see those connections (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001). Systematic and extensive feedback on assignments sends students the message that they can and should do homework as practice. A typical homework assignment for my students consists of a small collection of problems, each of which is linked to a learning objective. At first, I make those connections for my students, but eventually they make them on their own. 
When I assign homework, I discuss with my students where and how it applies to their assessments. My goal is to get students to constantly ask themselves, “Do I know this? Can I do this?” To my surprise, my homework completion rates have remained steady over the past three years. Some students don't do all of the homework that I assign, but they know that they are accountable for mastering the standard connected to it. Of course, not every student who needs to practice always does so, but I am amazed and encouraged that students ask me for extra practice fairly regularly.

New Entrance Sign for High School
Thank you to Mr. Lentz, Mr. Ferrie, and Industrial Tech students! The sign should be up in the next few weeks.